Van Garderen & Pate in Tour de France.

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We’re thinking that Jonathan Vaughters, Danny Pate’s former boss at Garmin-Cervelo is happy to see Pate get a ride at the Tour.

Vaughters was the first to say that Pate had huge potential and made it one of his personal projects. It was like an older brother thing and eventually the relationship fell apart.

The argyle genius couldn’t fully understand Pate — at least not to his satisfaction — but then again Vaughters can’t quite figure out wacky Dave Zabriskie. In any case, it was time for the two to go to separate corners and since Vaughters runs the team, it was Pate who departed.

In naming Danny Pate to the Tour squad — his second trip to the big show since 2008 — director Sportif Rolf Aldag called Pate a guy who can “ride on the front forever and do it with a smile on their face.” The front part we agree with but as far as facial expression, we’ve always though Pate looked sad on the bike.

We remember him almost winning stage 15 of the 2008 Tour. It’s probably just a curious bit of physiognomy but there was such a conflicted look on Pate’s face. There was suffering and hope mixed with an “oh-no, what if I do win? I don’t want all that extra pressure.”

We hope we were wrong on the score and we’re sending a psychic Norcal energy boost Pate’s way. Good luck in France to the Coloradan from a former Coloradan.

It’s a different scenario for the young Tejay Van Garderen who has earned the Next Big Thing tag in the States based on an impressive ride in the Dauphine and Vuelta last tear and a damn solid 5th in the hardest Tour of California on record.

From our limited exposure to Van Garderen, he seems almost scary laid-back, calm and focused. He casually dropped to the press that he aimed to win in California. It wasn’t brash talk or disrespect to the competition, just the mindset of a winner and even Chris Horner was impressed with the kid and his killer attitude.

He had a bad ride on Sierra road in stage 4 but pulled it back together on the Alpe d’Huez-ish Mt Baldy stage. He learns fast, he takes risks, he handles pressure well and his girlfriend is just really, really nice.

So into the French pressure cooker he goes and we’ll see how well he navigates. We’re gonna throw out a number just for the mental exercise, say top 25, maybe 20.

Allez Tejay has a nice ring.


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